Photo Credit: Brigadier General John Bell Hood took control of his old regiment, the 4th Texas, and led it in a successful charge at dusk against the Union defenses at Gaines’ Mill. The unstoppable Texans fixed bayonets and screamed the Rebel Yell.
Costly Confederate Victory at Gaines’ Mill
Entrenched Federals at Gaines' Mill on the outskirts of Richmond on June 27, 1862, repulsed repeated Confederate assaults until the final attack of the day.
By John Walker
With just an hour of daylight remaining on the smoke-shrouded battlefield near Gaines’ Mill six miles northeast of Richmond, Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Lee sought out one of his most promising officers, Brig. Gen. John Bell Hood. The commander of the Army of Northern Virginia’s troops had been launching uncoordinated attacks throughout June 27, 1862, against Union works on the slopes east of Boatswain’s Creek without making a dent in the enemy’s line. There was only time for one more attack.
As the sun dipped low in the sky, Lee had finally managed to gather all his forces for a general attack along a 21/2-mile front. He remained confident that he could turn the potential defeat into victory, and he wanted Hood’s Texas brigade to spearhead the assault. Lee told Hood what he needed, omitting none of the difficulties the previous attackers had encountered.
“This must be done,” Lee told Hood. “Can you break his line?” When the young brigadier replied that he would try, Lee turned to ride away and said, “May God be with you.” Hood’s five regiments were about to charge across the swamp and into history.
Robert E. Lee's Plan to Break the Siege of Richmond
After an almost uninterrupted four-month string of Union successes in early 1862 put the very survival of the Southern Confederacy in jeopardy, Maj. Gen. George McClellan, the commander of the Army of the Potomac, advanced up the Virginia Peninsula and by mid-June had five U